Summer Memories ~ 2017

It’s only been three days since school let out for the year but what a start to the summer of 2017!  Lots has been happening at our end ~ so much fun and happy memory-building that I thought I’d write this post to share all the exciting details!  Here’s a little look at what’s been happening around here lately.

First, as I mentionned, school ended this past week which means SUMMER VACATION is finally here! This will only be my second summer not working since I was a kid so naturally I am thrilled.  Last summer was the first I ever took off from work and it was absolutely wonderful!  I am looking forward to having wide open-schedules, lots of time to catch up on little projects around the house, reading lots of books, and spending as much time as possible outdoors.  This year at school was a great one!  I had a pretty challenging group of Grade 5 students but overall it was a great year together.  It’s a good thing too, because I found out that I will be teaching Grade 6 next year which means I’ll have all the same students again!  I also had to move my classroom done the hall but thankfully, had enough time this past week to get started on setting it up which means a lot less to do come the last weeks of summer!

My little family. I can’t believe Mariah has already graduated!

On top of my school year ending, my stepdaughter Mariah graduated high school this past week!  I can’t believe that time has already come! As always, she looked absolutely stunning at her graduation and we all beamed with pride as she crossed the stage to receive her diploma. My parents were in town so they were even able to join us which was nice. After, we took a thousand pictures and enjoyed the graduation dinner with some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. Overall, it was a great night!

Then on Friday, just four days after her graduation, our little girl moved out!  She’s gone to Ottawa to live with her aunt for the summer before moving into residence and attending college in the fall.  My husband packed her up the other day, we all shed a lot of tears, and then we saw her off.  So far, it just kind of feels like she’s gone on a summer vacation but I am sure the reality of her being gone will sink in soon.

Another big highlight of the summer already happened this past week as our little city hosted its first ever Stars and Thunder festival.  It was an eight-day concert series and international fireworks competition that literally brought thousands of visitors to our hometown. This is a big deal for our city since nothing much ever happens here.  Also, when the idea was first brought forth by our mayor there was a lot of backlash. But I’m happy to say, the festival was a huge success and so much fun!  Mom and Dad arrived last Saturday and parked their camper in our driveway for the week (which meant my adult dream of being neighbours with my parents became a reality for a short time! Haha) They attended the entire week of concerts but with my husband out of out town for work, my stepkids and I only joined them for one night.  We saw Hedley – one of my most favourite bands – who I had planned on seeing this summer anyway, even if it meant travelling to do so!  When I heard they were coming to our city, I was so excited and they definitely didn’t disappoint!  There’s just something so amazing about live, outdoor music in the summer especially when one of your top favourite bands is playing!

Me and the kids at Stars and Thunder waiting for Hedley to perform!

Mom and I at Stars and Thunder

But what happened after the show was even more exciting!  Mom, the kids, and I had headed down to the venue early to secure a good spot to watch, but my Dad had decided to wait awhile longer and take the free shuttle downtown to meet up with us.  He caught the shuttle at the hotel across the street from my house and while he was sitting there waiting for it to arrive, who comes out of the hotel, loads up a couple SUVs and heads off?!  Hedley!  So by a complete slight of chance, my Dad found out that the band was staying at the hotel across the street from my house!  With this information on hand, after the show, my Mom, kids and I decided to wander over there to see if we could spot any of the members. Surprisingly, only a few other fans got the memo that that’s where the band was staying so there wasn’t a lot of people. Some of the crew was hanging out outside though, so we got to chat with them for a few minutes. Then, only about twenty minutes after getting there, suddenly a black SUV pulled up and immediately I recognized Jake (lead singer) in the front passenger seat!  Not wanting to miss my golden opportunity, I called out to him the minute he stepped out of the vehicle, and the next thing you know we were taking selfies and photos with one of my favourite artists of all time!

Selfie with Jake!

I ruined this one by talking. I told my husband that I found the kids a new Daddy. HAHA!

Jake took this one with all of us!

Honestly, the rest is kind of blur.  It all passed very quickly (just a few minutes) and I barely remember what I said to Jake (other than that the show had been amazing!)  He also took my phone and took a selfie with all of us and if I can let my inner teenaged girl come out for a second…

“OMG, HE TOUCHED MY PHONE!”  Hahaha.

Needless to say it was a very exciting evening and one that I will definitely remember forever.  The fact that I got to share that moment with my Mom and my kids just makes it all the better!

For the rest of the weekend, I got to babysit my nieces while my parents took in the remaining concerts.  Isabella is five and Aubrey is two, and they are two of the sweetest girls ever and so well-behaved!  Aubrey talks so well for her age and listening to her babble as they play together is one of my favourite things! Between playing at the park, having dinner out, taking walks, colouring, and watching movies, I had a blast with these two.  Of course, it was all topped off with one of the best fireworks displays I’ve seen for Canada Day (which we met up with Mom, Dad, Brad, and Brandon for).

Watching movies with Auntie Kelly

Happy Canada Day!

Playing at the park listening to Keith Urban concert and waiting for fireworks!

Making summer memories – watching fireworks with Uncle Brad.

So that’s been my first week of summer!  Crazy busy, exhausting, exciting, and fulfilling.  I can’t believe we still have a whole summer ahead of us!  But the memories we’ve made this past week will definitely last a lifetime!

Stay tuned for the rest of our summer adventures!

Advertisements

Summer Lovin’: Where I’ve Been & What I’ve Been Up To

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  I guess I inadvertently took the summer “off” from blogging.  But I’m happy to say that my summer has been jam-packed with mini road trips, family & friends, and lots and lots of fun.  Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to!

Summer started off off perfectly with a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful camping trip with Mom, Dad, and my 3-year-old niece Isabella   It was just the refresher I needed after ten long months at school!

In addition to camping, I was able make a few visits back home which of course meant lots of time with my three adorable nieces!  These girls definitely have a huge piece of my heart!

Of course a trip back home is never complete without seeing two of my best girlfriends and their sweet babies!  We spent an afternoon at the beach, played at the park, enjoyed lunch together, and went swimming at the pool where I spent many childhood summers!

Along with friends back home, this summer included vists with two dear friends who now live overseas! I took an overnight road trip to visit with my university roommate Chadley and her family who were home visiting from China!  It was a short but very sweet time that involved swimming in Lake Muskoka, delicious drinks, and a lot of reminiscing.  Last week, I visited my old high school friend Maureen who was home visiting from NYC (and the UK before that!) It always fills my heart and feels so good to see old friends again!

Immediately after my trip to Muskoka, I had the pleasure of enjoying another camping trip with Mom, Dad and my nieces   This time we enjoyed Christmas in July, the beach, campfires, and best of all, more family time!

Of course those are just some of the highlights of my summer so far that I was lucky enough to capture on camera.  Trips to Gillies Lake beach, reading, doing yoga, playing softball, spending quality time with my hubby and kids, and following the Toronto Blue Jays on TV have also been a big part of my summer!  And the fun’s not over yet because this weekend coming is the one I’ve been waiting for all summer! Stay tuned to hear all about it…. Let’s just say, right now I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas morning!!!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer too!

 

 

Celebrating My Grandparents’ Love

GrandmanGrandpa

I have never liked the part of traditional wedding vows that say “Until death do us part”.  I’ve never really understood or agreed with that idea ~ Does it mean that once one spouse dies, the couple no longer love each other?  Certainly not. I like to think that a couple’s true love lasts for all eternity.  It surely doesn’t stop at the moment of death.  Surely after one’s passing, the living spouse continues to love the other with his/her whole heart?   I am thinking about this more than usual today because today – June 14, 2015 – would have been my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary and my Grandfather’s 89th birthday.

Sadly, my Grandpa passed away a little over a month ago.  But that doesn’t mean the love shared between him and my Grandma for all of those years no longer goes on.  I would like to believe that their love will always exist.  There’s no “until death do us part” in their marriage.

Although Grandpa isn’t here for the occasion, I still feel like 65 years of marriage is an amazing thing that needs to be recognized, celebrated, and cherished.  So this post is in honour of my Grandma and Grandpa – Ron and Esther Palmateer – and their many years of love and marriage.

DSCF0265

One of my favourite memories of my Grandpa, I mentioned in my eulogy at his funeral last month.  At their 60th anniversary celebration, my Grandpa was asked about the secret to a successful marriage.  With his keen sense of humour, my Grandpa chuckled and answered, “She worked inside, I worked outside.  And every now and then we’d meet up for coffee.”  All of those who knew him, loved Grandpa for his wonderful sense of humour and he took every opportunity there was to make others laugh.

After Grandpa’s passing, Grandma mentioned to me about her and Grandpa “not making it” to their 65th wedding anniversary.  But, to me, when you make it a month shy of 65 years, you made it.  In this day and age, so many people give up on marriage.  They forget the vows they promised and the commitment they made, and they let the struggles and stresses of life split them apart.

But Grandma, you and Grandpa made it.  Through the ups and downs, the raising of eight children, the maintaining of a 700-acre farm and homestead, through health and sickness, the good times and bad – you made it.  Your love was strong, dedicated, and true from the day you got married -and as one of your many grandchildren, I am immensely proud of the family and commitment you and Grandpa built together.

Although you lost your beloved husband, dear Grandma, I want you to know that you made it.  You and Grandpa will forever have a life of trust, companionship, and love that lasts for all eternity.  I know today Grandpa is smiling down at his “little Esther” with love and longing in his heart.

So Grandma, while Grandpa may not be here in body with you today or the next, please remember that he is always with you.  He is by your side today, just like he was sixty-five years ago, and as he will be for all of your tomorrows.  Although he is gone physically, his spirit and his memory lies in the place you’ve always held him – your heart – where he shall forever remain.

And while you hold on to these memories please know how immensely blessed I am to have had wonderful grandparents like you and Grandpa.  Your commitment to one another and to your extended family is truly something I aspire to and hold so very dear.

With all my love,

Kelly xo

 

 

 

May Mayhem: Sad Endings and Happy Beginnings

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to just sit and write about what’s been on my mind lately.  May has been a whirlwind of a month and I feel like I’ve been on the go constantly.  I finally have some time to myself though and was itching to get back to my blog.  So here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

"She's Ready to Pop!" popcorn favour made by yours truly

“She’s Ready to Pop!” popcorn favour made by yours truly

At the end of April, Mariah (my step-daughter) and I helped my mom host a surprise baby shower for my sister-in-law Sarah.  I took the Friday off work and we headed out early for an hour-and-a-half mini road trip to my hometown where my parents still live.  Friday, we stopped in to see my Grandpa at the hospital and then spent the afternoon decorating and prepping things at the church basement where the shower was to be held.  We had fun getting creative, using Pinterest ideas, and setting things up.   Saturday, the fun began.  We headed over early again to put the final touches on the shower preparations as the guests streamed in.  Shortly after, Sarah arrived and was very surprised to see the room full of friends, family, and loved ones all there to celebrate her and her bump (which had grown exponentially since the last time I saw her!)  We had a lovely afternoon playing traditional shower games, feasting on treats, and visiting with a lovely group of ladies.  Sarah and the baby were spoiled with piles of beautiful gifts and the afternoon was a success overall!  As the few remaining guests prepared to go, a few of my aunts were nice enough to stick

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

around and help us disassemble and clean up the party.  That evening, Mariah and I relaxed at my Mom & Dad’s content with the successful party we’d thrown and even more excited for my soon-to-be niece to make her arrival.The next day (Sunday) Mom, Dad, and I went back to the hospital to see Grandpa after receiving a call from the nurses saying he was having a hard day.  Grandpa (my Dad’s dad) had been hospitalized two weeks prior after those at home could no longer care for him due to his increasingly bad dementia (and a myriad of other illnesses and conditions). It was a particularly tough visit for me because for the first time ever, I saw my Grandpa cry. He hated being in the hospital, was lonely, and had a hard time understanding and accepting that it was the best choice for his care and well-being.  Not only that but his dementia left him confused, often not remembering when his loved ones had been in to visit him, and referring to my Grandma (his wife) as his Mom.

I left that day with a sadness that I was unsure could be cured.  Poor Grandpa, I kept thinking.  Eighty-eight years of a fulfilling, busy, happy life and now to be laying in a hospital, too deaf to communicate, and too sick to care for oneself.  I cried a good portion of the way home and desperately prayed that if all that was left of Grandpa’s life was suffering and sadness, that he’d soon pass and be able to rest peacefully.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Well, sadly, those prayers were answered about a week and a half later.  My Mom contacted me on the evening of Monday, May 4th to tell me that Grandpa had come down with pneumonia and one of his lungs had shut down completely.  The doctors had put him on a breathing machine but his heart was working in over-drive and once removed from the machine, they didn’t expect him to make it long.  I cried good and hard as this news hit home and I realized that we were going to lose Grandpa.  Although I knew that his’s quality of life had diminished greatly, it was still very sad to hear that he was at death’s door.  The family had decided to keep him on the machine until about 11 p.m. that night until some more of the family members arrived.  My Mom, Dad, and cousin Bonnie (who is a nurse) stayed by Grandpa’s side throughout the night as he miraculously continued to breath on his own and his heart beat wildly. By 9 a.m the next morning (Tuesday May 5th), my Grandpa took his last breath and his suffering ended as he passed peacefully with family members by his side.

That day after work, I hurried home (an hour commute), packed my bag, made arrangements for my step-kids to stay with their Mom, grabbed our dog, and headed for my parents house. Brad met me there the next day after he was able to get some time off work. We spent the next three days going back and forth between my Mom and Dad’s house and my Grandma’s house visiting with cousins, aunts and uncles, and other family members (some I hadn’t seen in months or years).   We  shared memories and stories of Grandpa’s life and looked at old pictures.  We remembered Grandpa’s wonderful sense of humour, his love of his huge family (eight children, 22 grandchildren, and many more great-grandchildren), and of course, his passion for his 700-acre cattle farm. As we visited and spent precious time together, countless neighbours and friends arrived with meat platters, fruit baskets, and fresh homemade buns which kept our tummies full while our minds were too busy to accomplish such mundane tasks.

My grandparents on their 60th - they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

My grandparents on their 60th – they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

That Friday we had Grandpa’s visitation at the funeral home  where I was actually able to keep my emotions in check until I saw my Grandma lean down and give Grandpa’s kiss a cheek.  I found solace in my sweet 3-year-old niece Isabella though who despite being too young to understand was appropriately solemn and well-behaved the entire time.  She gave me her sweet smile and let me hug her tight which helped immensely. Of course, being surrounded by family also helped too.

The next say, we had Grandpa’s funeral where we celebrated his long, wonderful life.  My brother and 7 of my cousins were the pall-bearers and I was honoured to say a eulogy in honour of Grandpa.  My Dad also spoke and thankfully his courage and ability to “keep it together” during his speech allowed me to remain calm and well-spoken during mine.  I was however, grateful that I got to stand behind a podium as my legs shook uncontrollably the entire time!  It was a very nice service and after, the family once again gathered to receive even more of Grandpa’s friends and family.  He truly was a much-loved man who will be so greatly missed by many!

The next day (Sunday), we enjoyed one last visit with some of our extended family before heading home.  It was fun to watch my young nieces play with some of their second cousins and to visit with several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins who live out of town.  Later that day, we packed up and after five long days, headed home to prepare to return to work on Monday.

Monday came, and despite being exhausted, was a pretty ordinary day until I got home and received yet some more news from my Mom: my sister-in-law Sarah was in labour!  This, of course, was news we had been waiting for (although she was eight days ahead of her due date).  I immediately began making plans for the coming weekend to go out of town again, knowing my newest niece was on her way!

Aubrey - five days old

Aubrey – five days old

At 6:10 am. on Tuesday, May 12, my beautiful niece Aubrey Noreen Palmateer was born weighing 7lbs and 12 oz.  All day, I checked social media constantly for pictures and updates!  Like the proud Auntie I am, I showed everyone I could (including my third-grade students!) her adorable picture.  The rest of the week passed in a blur as I counted down the hours until Friday when I could go and meet my new niece!

Friday arrived and since Brad and the kids had decided to stay home for this trip, I was able to hit the road straight after work and make it to Mom & Dad’s just in time for dinner (bonus!) After dinner, we headed over to Grandma’s where my brother Mike and his wife, Sarah, met us with their beautiful new bundle of joy.  I specifically remember the moment when Mike sat the car seat down and pulled back its cover – there she was!  So tiny, beautiful, and perfect!  My new, precious little niece only four days old.  I felt emotional so immediately that for a few seconds I thought I was going to cry.  It’s amazing what a new addition to the family can do to prove to you just how precious life is!

As most families do when a new baby is born, we played what my brother likes

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

to call “hot potato” with Aubrey that night.  We passed her around, from Auntie Kelly, to Grandma, to Great-Grandma, to Aunt Barb, and around again – all getting in our fair share of snuggles and cuddles with tiny little Aubrey.

On Saturday, Mom and I made a quick shopping trip to stock up on My Little Ponies and Play-dough before heading to Quebec to my brother’s in-law’s for Isabella’s birthday party!  We had fun watching the girls play, enjoying delicious appetizers, and of course, playing more “Hot Potato” with Aubrey.  This time, she was awake though and spent nearly an hour looking around with her beautiful, dark blue, almond-shaped eyes.  During this time, I cradled her in my arms and gently stroked her soft, silky hair and skin while whispering to her how much she is loved and how beautiful she is.  It was such a special time that it almost made me want my own baby!  Almost…

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Finally it was time to watch Izzy open her birthday presents.  Three-year-olds are the best people to watch open gifts!  She literally squealed with delight as she pulled each item from it’s pretty, tissue-filled bag.  If only we had thought to video tape her!  So precious 🙂

After gifts, I volunteered to be the “favourite” Auntie and brought my two older nieces and their cousin to the park to play.  It was fun to push the girls on the swings, help Lea master the monkey bars, and watch the girls dig in the dirt and make up imaginary adventures.  After a good hour at the park, we walked back to the house, me holding one of Izzy’s tiny hands while she goofily sang “Mama had a baby and its head popped off” while popping the tops off of dandelions with the other.  Have I mentioned how much I love her?!

I spent that night at Mom and Dad’s, cuddled and relaxing on their couch, and watching the Blue Jays game with Dad.  There is something so relaxing and peaceful about my parents’ place.  It felt wonderful to be there, enjoying a quiet evening with just the two of them, after a busy, fun-filled day.

Mom, me and Aubrey

Mom, me and Aubrey

Eventually Sunday rolled around and I could no longer neglect the long list of things I knew I needed to get done at home.  Since being out of town so much in the last few weeks, chores and spring jobs had piled up and been neglected.  Before heading out though, Mom and I swung by Mike’s place for one last visit with the baby!  An hour later, after being serenaded by Izzy on the piano, and snuggling Aubrey, my heart was full and it was time to make the trek home.

Finally, we come to today.  Thank goodness for holiday Mondays!  Life has been a bit of a blur lately (even had trouble focussing at work which is not usually an issue for me!)  As I mentioned, the list of chores had really backed up since we have barely been home lately.  Brad and I managed to get groceries done last evening which left today to finally tackle yard work, house cleaning, and laundry.  Thankfully the weather cooperated and we managed to get a significant part of our to-do list completed:  rake the lawn, muck out our flower beds, tune up the lawn mower, mow the lawn, burn up some old brush, tidy up the yard; do laundry, dust, scrub the kitchen, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors, etc.   Despite completing all of that, we still had time to relax this afternoon and watch our Blue Jays finally win a game!

So now here I am – my house is clean, the yard is tidy, and most of the household “jobs” are done.  A freshly cleaned house and a checked-off to-do list are two of the best things I can think of!  We barbequed steaks for dinner, the kids helped clean up without complaining (amazing!) and now I’m sipping coffee and catching up on my blog!

Best of all, I feel like life is about to go back to normal for a little while. While I immensely enjoyed my time back home with family, it was definitely a whirlwind of a month and I am looking forward to getting back to routine and a semi-normal schedule!

 

 

 

 

Presents vs. Presence: My Family’s New Holiday Plan

presents

Every time another holiday approaches, I start to think about what it means to me and my family, and how we are going to celebrate this year.  With Easter right around the corner, my husband and I have already decided that we are not going to go over-board on gifts this year.  We made this decision mostly based on our current efforts to tighten the purse strings and to pay off some debt.  But once it was made, I started thinking more about these holidays, what they have become, and what they mean to me.

My family celebrates all the traditional Christian holidays.  Growing up, the Easter Bunny hid eggs, Santa filled our stockings, and birthdays were made special with delicious cake and an assortment of gifts.  Brad and I did the same for our kids when they were younger.  But now the kids are growing up and I am starting to re-think things.  I am starting to realize and truly believe that holidays are over-commercialized and that for me, the real meaning of the holidays has been lost under a pile of meaningless gifts.

Every Christmas, for example, we are faced with the same task. What will we get [insert name here] this year? Sometimes there’s a particular gift that someone needs or has been wanting for a long time, but often enough we end up buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.  What is the meaning behind that?   A few weeks after Christmas, most kids I know can barely tell you what they received.  My own kids have had gifts they’ve gotten for Christmas that are still in the package months later.

We’ve all seen it – weeks, sometimes months, before the holiday actually arrives big box stores stock their shelves full of every holiday-related object imaginable.  People flock to these aisles to load their carts with decorations, gifts, and other items deemed “necessary” to properly celebrate the holiday.

Over the duration of the last few holidays, this process has sat uncomfortably with me.  And now that my husband and I are really cutting down on spending unnecessary money, even more so.  It all just seems so frivolous, and dare I say, wasteful.

So a few weeks ago, we announced to our kids that there won’t be heaps of candy for Easter this year.  Really, what child needs a small mountain of sugar anyway?  It hardly makes sense for us to harp on them about healthy eating, only to turn around and gift them with every sugar-laden treat available.  Does that mean we won’t get them anything?  Absolutely not.  But instead of the focus being on meaningless gifts (because, honestly, most kids these days already have everything they could need or want!), I want our family’s focus to be on the memories we make simply by being together.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

That’s why my husband and I have already discussed our plans for Christmas this year.  Rather than over-load are kids with gifts as we’ve done in the past, our plan is to book a family trip where we can experience new things, have a great time, and make memories together.  I strongly believe in gifting children the gift of memories as opposed to material things.  After all, ten years from now, will they remember the new video game they got, or will they have lasting memories of our fun, family vacay?

Exactly.

It all goes back to my belief that spending time with your kids is far more important and meaningful than buying them gifts.  So many kids nowadays have every gadget going.  I know parents who have ran out of ideas as to what to get their kids for Christmas, because their kids already have everything.  I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of financial predicament these parents are putting themselves in, for such little result.  Yet, when I invite my stepson to play a simple game of Jenga with me, he is so excited he is literally vibrating.

So, this holiday, whatever it is, I challenge you to let go of some of the gifts and focus on the activities surrounding the holiday.  What memories is your family making?  How much quality time did you spend with your children, and most importantly, years from now, what precious memories will they have?

 

Check out some of my family’s special memories of holidays past!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

Our Family’s “Get Fit” Plan!

DSCF7470In celebration of the first day of spring, I approached my family today about a topic that’s been on the top of all of our minds for quite some time now.  Like many people, my husband, stepson Brandon, and I have tossed around the ideas of eating better and being more active but have not quite found the mojo or the drive to get going. Even my stepdaughter Mariah has been requesting a gym membership and showing an interest in physical activity.   Now that Spring is here, I thought what better day to start, then now?  After all, spring brings back the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. And I speak from past experience when I say, I know I can’t do it on my own.  I rely on those around me to motivate me, influence me, and inspire me.  Most importantly, I want to be a good role model for my children, especially for Brandon who has developed so many habits similar to my own.  I don’t want to just preach anymore, but actually show him how it’s done.  So hopefully, this will be a turning point for our family, one in which we can all get healthier (and ultimately, happier) together.  Here are some of the steps we plan to take together:

  • Keeping a food journal – in the past I have kept a food journal and I really believe it was the key to my past weight loss.  Food journals help us to keep track of not only what we eat, but how much, and for many people just cutting back on portion sizes can make a significant difference.  Brandon & I have both agreed to start keeping a daily food journal.
  • Healthier eating – this one has gotten easier since my family has cut back immensely on eating out (and it’s been a lot easier on the wallet, too!) Another thing we have started doing is meal planning each week- it helps avoid the last minute, weeknight rush (and tendency to grab unhealthy take-out) and ensures we are eating well-rounded meals and a variety of healthy foods (as opposed to pasta every night!)
  • Cut back on sweets – my entire family loves junk food and sweets, but Brandon and I particularly.  Whether it’s cereal, chocolate, snacks, or candy there is definitely room for improvement.  Another thing I will try to get better at is the amount of diet pop I drink.  There are endless studies that show the negative effects of drinking diet soda, but some habits are just so hard to break!  More water, less diet soda for this girl!DSCF6882
  • Exercise – I used to exercise all the time but over the last year have become a complete couch potato.  I have a way to go before I can get back to where I was but I plan on starting out with going for daily walks (and Brad has agreed to come with me, which means a lot considering I know how much he dislikes it).  Brandon plays outside a lot, plays hockey, and has decided to taken on going for a daily walk/run.  Brad plans on using the treadmill in the basement and setting up a home gym.  Finally, I plan to renew my gym membership and start doing more yoga.  No matter what it is, our plan is to find some kind of way to get active on a daily basis!